[Sinn Fein]

22 January 2000

Foreign Affairs Minister David Andrews tenure criticised over erosion of neutrality and Sellafield

Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle member Seán Crowe, the party's candidate for Dublin in the European Parliament elections, paid tribute to Foreign Affairs Minister David Andrews for his work on the Irish peace process and East Timor. But he also criticised Mr Andrews' tenure for ``the erosion of Irish neutrality and the Government's failure to mount a vigorous, public international campaign to close the Sellafield nuclear plant''.

Councillor Seán Crowe said:

``My personal working relationship with David Andrews in crucial peace process summits in the North and Downing Street with Tony Blair was a good one. I would like to thank him for his efforts and I wish him well for the future. Mr Andrews also deserves praise for his contribution to the independence of East Timor.

``This should not obscure the fact though that, under his term of office, Ireland's neutrality was eroded by press-ganging us into the NATO-led `Partnership for Peace'.''

Councillor Crowe said that Mr Andrews was entitled to change his view in Opposition that membership of PfP was a step towards joining NATO. ``But the Minister was not entitled to tear up an election pledge to voters to hold a referendum on joining PfP, then claim in Government there was no need to consult the public, and frog-march us into the arms of NATO.'' ENDS

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